1914

1914 Poem By Wilfred Owen Summary

It was Wilfred Owen who wrote the popular poem 1914. In fact, it is a Petrarchan sonnet about the outbreak of the Ist World War.

  • Wilfred Owen’s poem 1914 is a lamentation of the destructiveness of war. Not only this, it also compares the rise as well as the fall of European or Western civilization to the progression of the seasons
  • According to the speaker of the poem, World War I has thrust the world into a dark winter. As far as its nuclear whether is concerned; it is going to follow a new spring_that is civilization can be removed
  • It is noteworthy that Wilfred Owen was killed in an action in 1918 (his age was just 25 years) just before the end of the war; in this way, the sonnet entitled 1914 was published posthumously
War broke: and now the Winter of the world
With perishing great darkness closes in.
The foul tornado, centred at Berlin,
Is over all the width of Europe whirled,
Rending the sails of progress. Rent or furled
Are all Art's ensigns. Verse wails. Now begin
Famines of thought and feeling. Love's wine's thin.
The grain of human Autumn rots, down-hurled.

For after Spring had bloomed in early Greece,
And Summer blazed her glory out with Rome,
An Autumn softly fell, a harvest home,
A slow grand age, and rich with all increase.
But now, for us, wild Winter, and the need
Of sowings for new Spring, and blood for seed.

 Wilfred Owen’s Poem 1914 Summary

The speaker of the poem 1914 makes a comparison of World War I to a vast winter; a season of cold, deadly or fatal darkness closing in across the world.

He considers this war as a dreadful cyclone that began in the German city Berlin, as well as, now spun across the whole European countries, ripping down the sails of progress along the way. He says that not only the flags of the art are torn or rolled up but poetry also cries out in hopelessness. Moreover, he also sees or observes:

  • An extreme shortage of critical thinking as well as empathy
  • Love is also weak
  • So far as the fruits of human civilization are concerned; they are rotting and have been thrown or tossed to the ground

The speaker of the poem 1914 also compares human progress to the seasons and deems or considers ancient Greece to have been the springtime of human history.  Ancient Rome (at that time) was summer; it was a time when civilization swiftly grew as well as spread in a blaze of glory.

As far as the autumn of that time is concerned; the harvest of the season was quietly set in. It is/was regarded as a season of humanity, an era filled with slow, abundant growth as well as prosperity. Now, the speaker talks about the present time; according to him all that is left is just the savage winter season.

He again says that civilization has to sow seeds if it is to be renewed in order to enter a new spring, as well as, all there needs to plant is the blood of the fallen people.

 The Poem 1914 Structure and Tone

Wilfred Owen, in his poem 1914 used conventional Italian/Petrarchan sonnet for carrying his ideas. The octave of the sonnet is a description of this year (the year that is used as the title of the poem) as “the winter of the world”. Moreover, it also outlines those conditions which followed the outbreak of World War I.

Whereas the poet throughout the set gives outlines of what he regards as the natural humane development of human civilization, as the seasons reflect. But, it is noteworthy that the last (rhyming) couplet sums up the horrible/dreadful future that human beings must face in wartime. After that, here some information about the tone of the poem will be provided:

  • In the octave of Wilfred Owen’s poem 1914 the tone is one of dejection/hopelessness as well as dread at the destruction the war wrought
  • As far as the setset is concerned; here this war poet moves allway from the present time against which he raves for becoming reflective as well as celebratory of past times
  • Anyway, the last rhyming couplet brings back the cold cold despair or hopelessness of present winter as well as fear of blood or seed; it will have to be spilled in order to ensure future

Ques: What is the poem/sonnet 1914 about ?

Ans: Wilfred Owen’s poem or sonnet entitled 1914 is about the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. And, its title also suggests the same thing.

Ques: What are the themes of 1914 ?

Ans: Wilfred Owen introduces some important themes in his poem 1914, they are,
Societal Collapse, Renewal, as well as Sacrifice
The Total Destruction of War

Ques: What is the rhyme scheme of the poem 1914 by Wilfred Owen ?

Ans: ABBA ABBA CDD CEE is the rhyme scheme of Wilfred Owen’s sonnet entitled 1914.

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